Stopping Terror Truck Attacks

Until recently the main need for a barrier was to simply keep vehicles packed with explosives away from buildings, the attacks on airport terminals such as at Glasgow being an example. At one time kerbside drop off at any transport hub was literally that, but we have moved these days to a vast expanse of tarmac to keep adequate separation. One of the prices that we pay in the war on terror is to have to walk up to a couple of hundred metres, often in the rain, to get a taxi. Consider Paddington station in London where once the black cabs descended a ramp into the middle of the station; now one has to walk about half a kilometre at best to join the queue.

Our safety is an issue for, in this day and age, personal freedom is seen as a right, but any security, to be effective, needs to make some imposition upon us. How much freedom we have to trade for our safety is a question that our politicians will have to decide, but we have to head off each new tactic that terrorist organisations use against us.

The sudden swerve of a vehicle from the roadway, mounting the pavement and driving into pedestrians is an easy move and the larger and heavier the vehicle the more effective the result from the view of the person carrying out the attack. Hostile Vehicle Mitigation (HVM) has been a priority for some organisations for a long time, the military for example, but it has now become a priority for many public bodies and should be on the agenda for many commercial organisations. Maintaining a secure perimeter is of paramount importance and whilst there is a cost to doing so, there is the risk of cost if you do nothing; certainly for commercial bodies the cost of liability litigation should encourage them to be thinking about HVM.

The threat of ploughing a vehicle into crowds is one that can only be solved by providing physical separation and the concept of portable concrete barriers has developed to a point where such solutions are readily available. These solutions may not be attractive in the raw, but they are highly effective and, in more permanent installations, can be painted or landscaped to improve the view. They can even be made to pay for themselves by selling the space on the for advertising and this might be a popular selling point for, say, a sports or entertainment venue.

Do they work? Most certainly they do and I have seen several effective demonstrations.